Trip reports


Adult twite perched on branch in heather moorland

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Braving the very cold temperatures 10 members gathered in West Hide in time for the high tide. In the event it wasn't the highest of tides, nevertheless, it afforded good views across the mudflats of some of the record numbers of Dunlin, recorded at 7,500 on 31st Jan.
Shelduck, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Cormorant, Mallard and Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gull were also seen.
We were sad to see a lone Guillemot, obviously in some distress, stranded on the mud exposed by the receding tide and thought unlikely to survive.
On the pool behind the hide there were Common Snipe, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Moorhen and a Raven.
The highlight were 12 Twite, two of which were showing hints of breeding colours. Two hundred had been recorded in January and this species is the subject of an on-going study by a researcher from Liverpool University.
Leaving the hide we drove to the far end of the reserve, noting a large flock of Lapwing and several Curlew feeding in the fields. We were greeted with fine views of an obliging Kingfisher perching on rocks by the pool behind the Visitors' Centre, along with a Stock Dove, Grey Heron and Little Grebe.
Whilst walking back towards East and Middle hides we noted Sparrowhawk, Song Thrush, Dunnock and Robin and from the hides we added rwo Spotted Redshank and Greenshank amongst numbers of Redshank. and Common Snipe.
At the feeder station we had Blue and Great Tit, Bullfinch, Wren and a well-fed rat enjoying 'manna from above'!
Lunch was taken in the relative warmth of the car before heading across the river to Burton Mere Wetland Centre, where volunteer staff advised us to go straight towards the Inner Marsh hide. There we found the Barn Owl which was roosting in a hawthorn tree beside the track. What an incredible opportunity to study every feature of the owl's beautiful plumage and facial disc. It was deemed to be a young owl from a nearby nest site.
From the hide we noted a distant flock of Pink-footed Geese, Stonechat, Pied Wagtail and a Kestrel, before taking a recently opened path crossing the railway bridge to a viewpoint affording good views over the saltmarsh and Dee Estuary. Little Egret and Curlew were seen.
Returning to the Centre we had excellent views of a Water Rail - they seem to have made the sparse rushes on the edge of the adjacent pool a permanent haunt!
The wintry sunset made the numbers of waterfowl somewhat difficult to see, but we added Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Canada and Greylag Geese to complete an enjoyable day, with some 60 species recorded.